Amount of time required to teach this lesson: Four 45-minute class periods
Copies of each of the data sets for each student
Copies of the hypothesis worksheet for each student
The physical setup of the classroom: The classroom will be set up with the students seated in small groups of four to five students.
Formative: The teacher will observe student participation and discussion at the end of day 1 and 2. The students are required to turn in their finalized ideas and questions at the end of day 1.
Summative: Students will be required to answer the following essay question.
Directions for the Inquiry Essay Question: The End of Rome
In the space below, please describe, with at least three details, life in the years preceding the fall of Rome. (3 Points)
The students will conduct independent research using multiple primary sources
The students will present information on their researched topic and participate in a discussion/debate about the fall of the Roman Empire.
Day 1: Engagement
Introduce and distribute the first primary resource, because this resource may be difficult for the students to understand, read aloud to the class. “I am going to read an eyewitness account of the Rome, written by St. Jerome. It represents the view of someone who was living in the Roman Empire. This document was written so long ago and the language is different from what we normally use today. It is important that you understand this document, so I will stop a few times to explain what we read, and answer any questions you may have.” Ask questions about what St. Jerome’s must have been like during the fall based on this document. “How do you think he was feeling? Based on his description, how would you describe the city?Now that we have read the eyewitness account, please take a few minutes to read the next section describing the invasion of Rome. After you have finished reading, do a Turn and Talk with your neighbor (an activity where the students discuss with their neighbor the assignment). I want you know write down in your worksheet something you learned and something you want to know more about. For example, I want to what was causing all of the chaos and crazy things happening in Rome at this time. “Write your first hypothesis in the section labeled “My Question” If you have some assumptions or guesses of the answer to your question, I would also like you to write that down. After the students write their question, have some students share his or her hypothesis with the class. Write each hypothesis on the whiteboard or overhead projector. If an idea is expressed more than once, I will add a tally next to that idea to show its importance. “We will take a look at some more information over the next few days.”
The students will be divided into three groups based on their question and each analyzing a different source the next day.
Day 2: Divide Students into Groups
The students will be required to work collaboratively with their group-mates on their own as well as assist their group members in answering their self-generated questions. The students read the primary source and discuss amongst each other on whether it supports or opposes each of their questions. Students will have access to information, resources, and books about the Fall of Rome through the school library as well as the public library. Go around to each designated group area to introduce/provoke discussion amongst the group. Encourage all of the students to take notes to more easily help their
Group 1: The Government Questions
Give a short introduction to the students about Julius Caesar and what they are about to read. “A leader named Julius Caesar is very famous in Roman history. Caesar declared himself dictator of the Roman Empire for life. This act, along with his effort to decorate himself with power it turned many members of the Senate against him. Sixty members of the Senate decided that the only resolution to the problem was to assassinate Caesar. A man named Nicolaus of Damascus wrote a few years after the assassination an account of how and what it happened.” Ask a few questions before reading: Do you think this source will this help answer your question? If it does not answer it directly, is there any part of your question which knowing about the government and its leaders could help give you an idea about the Romans daily life at this point? You will read this source. Feel free to take notes in the given space. Why did the Senate need to assassinate Caesar? Why do you think the Senate did not have a strong plan for the Roman government after Caesar’s death? ” The death of Julius Caesar was the downfall of the Roman Republic and sent the city of Rome into spiral which was a dictatorship government, the political greed and selfishness drove a group of men to assassinate Caesar and ultimately lead to his downfall. The source acquired is an account of what happened according to a man who was close to the action named Nicolaus of Damascus’.
Group 2: Environmental Questions
The primary source of a letter by a Roman man named Pliny describing what happened to him and to his mother during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and destruction of Pompeii. Natural disasters like Pompeii and others like, plagues and lead poisoning took over the city and greatly diminished the health and hope of the Roman people. Hand out copies of this source to the students and ask them to read it and write down the main points on the hypothesis worksheet like before talking with their group members. Have the students do a short Turn and Talk with partners, then discuss with the class “What would happen to the people? What would change about their lives?What have you learned about the natural disasters during the fall of the empire? Do you think this is a cause or a factor?Since you’ve been given more information about more events that may have contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire, take some time to revise your original hypotheses. Remember to use all of the information you have read so far in trying to answer what caused the fall of the Roman Empire? Write down your revised hypothesis in the section labeled “Revised Hypothesis.” If your hypothesis is the same, you can write it down again.”
Group 3: People/Daily Life/Religious Questions
The next source defines the religious circumstances in the Roman Empire leading up to the fall; specifically, how Christians were being persecuted and chaos in the city with fighting. “Religious influences that may have aided to the fall of the Roman Empire include the establishment of Roman Christianity, conflicts with between Christians and other religions (mostly pagan cults). These power struggles between the Emperor and church leaders were a distraction from other larger problems of the empire. Please read the next source which is Edict of Milan. Highlight phrases where you see this as evidence if you need reminders.” Give copies of the final words of Vibia Perpetuato the students and ask them to read it and write down the main points on the hypothesis worksheet before discussing the information with their group members. “What was Perpetua’s reaction to being thrown in the gladiator arena? What does it mean to have religious freedom? Why is it important to have religious freedom? How do you think doing something good, like approving religious freedom, would cause problems for the empire? How would religious conflicts affect Rome?”
Day 3: Continuing Student Research
Students continue to research and also gain experience working with putting their research information on a PowerPoint. Students need to divide the work and presentation equally.
Day 4: Presentations and Closure
After the students have had a chance to “When you went through the data sets, what did you notice about your hypotheses? Did they change? What made you want to change your hypotheses?” Explain to the students that through the inquiry process, hypotheses will change as new information is taken into account. “The finding of new evidence allows us to learn different ways of answering our question. As we collect material from different viewpoints, and reflect about additional factors, we as investigators, get a more complete understanding of the condition of the Roman Empire during its fall. This process is similar to what scientists do when they follow the scientific method. Scientists will form initial hypotheses based on their current understanding of a phenomenon. By conducting experiments to gather evidence, then testing their hypotheses, and revising these hypotheses based on the new information they gather. Scientists must make sure that they have evidence to support them. We must do the same thing here. We can use the evidence we have gathered to come to a conclusion about the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire. Why is it important that we be able to change our hypothesis before coming to a conclusion?”
Primary Source 1:
St. Jerome was born around the year 340. He came to Rome and was baptized there around 360. He devoted the rest of his life to scholarly pursuits and the translation of the Bible into Latin. He died in 420. He wrote the following observations describing the devastation of the Empire around 406:
"Nations innumerable and most savage have invaded all Gaul. The whole region between the Alps and the Pyrenees, the ocean and the Rhine, has been devastated by the Quadi, the Vandals, the Sarmati, the Alani, the Gepidae, the hostile Heruli, the Saxons, the Burgundians, the Alemanni, and the Pahnonians. Oh wretched Empire! Mayence [Mainz, Germany], formerly so noble a city, has been taken and ruined, and in the church many thousands of men have been massacred. Worms [Germany] has been destroyed after a long siege. Rheims, that powerful city, Amiens, Arras, Speyer [Germany], Strasburg, - all have seen their citizens led away captive into Germany. Aquitaine and the provinces of Lyons and Narbonne, all save a few towns, have been depopulated; and these the sword threatens without, while hunger ravages within. I cannot speak without tears of Toulouse, which the merits of the holy Bishop Exuperius have prevailed so far to save from destruction. Spain, even, is in daily terror lest it perish, remembering the invasion of the Cimbri; and whatsoever the other provinces have suffered once, they continue to suffer in their fear. I will keep silence concerning the rest, lest I seem to despair of the mercy of God. For a long time, from the Black Sea to the Julian Alps, those things which are ours have not been ours; and for thirty years, since the Danube boundary was broken, war has been waged in the very midst of the Roman Empire. Our tears are dried by old age. Except a few old men, all were born in captivity and siege, and do not desire the liberty they never knew. Who could believe this? How could the whole tale be worthily told? How Rome has fought within her own bosom not for glory, but for preservation - nay, how she has not even fought, but with gold and all her precious things has ransomed her life... Who could believe that Rome, built upon the conquest of the whole world, would fall to the ground? That the mother herself would become the tomb of her peoples? That all the regions of the East, of Africa and Egypt, once ruled by the queenly city, would be filled with troops of slaves and handmaidens? That to-day holy Bethlehem should shelter men and women of noble birth, who once abounded in wealth and are now beggars?"
References: This eyewitness account appears in Robinson, James Harvey, Readings in European History (1906); Duruy, Victor, History of Rome and of the Roman People, vol VIII (1883).
Primary Source 2
Death of a Dictator
Nicolaus of Damascus wrote his account of the murder of Caesar a few years after the event. He was not actually present when the assassination occurred but had the opportunity to speak with those who were. The Plan:
"The conspirators never met openly, but they assembled a few at a time in each other’s' homes. There were many discussions and proposals, as might be expected, while they investigated how and where to execute their design. Some suggested that they should make the attempt as he was going along the Sacred Way, which was one of his favorite walks. Another idea was for it to be done at the elections during which he bad to cross a bridge to appoint the magistrates in the Campus Martius; they should draw lots for some to push him from the bridge and for others to run up and kill him. A third plan was to wait for a coming gladiatorial show. The advantage of that would be that, because of the show, no suspicion would be aroused if arms were seen prepared for the attempt. But the majority opinion favored killing him while he sat in the Senate, where he would be by himself since non-Senators would not be admitted, and where the many conspirators could hide their daggers beneath their togas. This plan won the day." Brutus Persuades Caesar to Ignore his Apprehensions:
"...his friends were alarmed at certain rumors and tried to stop him going to the Senate-house, as did his doctors, for he was suffering from one of his occasional dizzy spells. His wife, Calpurnia, especially, who was frightened by some visions in her dreams, clung to him and said that she would not let him go out that day. But Brutus, one of the conspirators who was then thought of as a firm friend, came up and said, 'What is this, Caesar? Are you a man to pay attention to a woman's dreams and the idle gossip of stupid men, and to insult the Senate by not going out, although it has honored you and has been specially summoned by you? But listen to me, cast aside the forebodings of all these people, and come. The Senate has been in session waiting for you since early this morning.' This swayed Caesar and he left." The Attack: "That was the moment for the men to set to work. All quickly unsheathed their daggers and rushed at him. First Servilius Casca struck him with the point of the blade on the left shoulder a little above the collar-bone. He had been aiming for that, but in the excitement he missed. Caesar rose to defend himself, and in the uproar Casca shouted out in Greek to his brother. The latter heard him and drove his sword into the ribs. After a moment, Cassius made a slash at his face, and Decimus Brutus pierced him in the side. While Cassius Longinus was trying to give him another blow he missed and struck Marcus Brutus on the hand. Minucius also hit out at Caesar and hit Rubrius in the thigh. They were just like men doing battle against him.” Under the mass of wounds, he fell at the foot of Pompey's statue. Everyone wanted to seem to have had some part in the murder, and there was not one of them who failed to strike his body as it lay there, until, wounded thirty-five times, he breathed his last. " Source:
Pliny describes what happened to him and to his mother during the second day of the disaster:
Ashes were already falling, not as yet very thickly. I looked round: a dense black cloud was coming up behind us, spreading over the earth like a flood.'Let us leave the road while we can still see,'I said,'or we shall be knocked down and trampled underfoot in the dark by the crowd behind.'We had scarcely sat down to rest when darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a closed room.
You could hear the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men; some were calling their parents, others their children or their wives, trying to recognize them by their voices. People bewailed their own fate or that of their relatives, and there were some who prayed for death in their terror of dying. Many besought the aid of the gods, but still more imagined there were no gods left, and that the universe was plunged into eternal darkness for evermore.
Source: The Destruction of Pompeii, 79 AD," EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (1999).
Primary Source 4
A Martyr's Death
Vibia Perpetua was a young woman of noble birth. She was 22, a wife, a mother of a young son and a Christian. In the city of Carthage in North Africa on March 7 of the year 203 she was put to death for her religious convictions. Her story comes to us from three eyewitness accounts written shortly after her death. Perpetua was one of five Christians condemned to death in the arena. One of her companions, Felicitas, was a slave and eight months pregnant. Two days before her execution she gave birth to a daughter. Pepetua's father was a pagan and came often to the prison (many times with Perpetua's son in his arms) to plead with his daughter to renounce her religion and save her life, but wasn’t successful. On March 7 Perpetua and her four companions were led to the arena where the crowd demanded they be scourged. Then a boar, a bear and a leopard were loosened upon the men while the women were attacked by a wild bull. Wounded, Perpetua was then put to the sword.
"When I was in the hands of the persecutors, my father in his tender solicitude tried hard to pervert me from the faith.
'My father,' I said, 'you see this pitcher. Can we call it by any other name than what it is?'
'No,' he said.
'Nor can I' [I said], 'call myself by any other name than that of Christian.'
So he went away, but, on the rumor that we were to be tried, wasted away with anxiety.
'When are we to be tossed?' she asked, and could scarcely be induced to believe that she had suffered, in spite of the marks on her body. [They were presently stabbed to death by gladiators] after having exhorted the others to 'stand fast in the faith and love one another,' she guided to her own throat the uncertain hand of the young gladiator."
Source: "Death of a Martyr, 203 AD" EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2004).